Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Roy Eldridge's photographs: pulling a thread

Back in 2013, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the saga of trumpeter Roy Eldridge's earthly possessions came to light. All may have seem to be lost, but only a few days ago it was announced that the University of North Texas Music Library had "finished digitization and metadata for almost 700 photos, newspaper clippings, date books, and other documents in the Roy Eldridge Collection belonging to the Sherman (Texas) Jazz Museum." This collection can now be seen here.

As of today, the collection holds 527 photographs. Even with some damage, these are a treasure. like the numerous images of Eldridge's short-lived big band, the JATP tours with Norman Granz, or the December 7, 1945 gig by this group:
  • Coleman Hawkins, "Texas Tom" Archia: tenor saxes
  • Roy Eldridge: trumpet
  • Thelonious Monk: piano
  • Al McKibbon: bass
  • Denzil Best: drums
  • Helen Humes: vocals
Thelonious Monk, Helen Humes, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge
Let it be a reminder that there is lot of jazz beyond the records.

Historical photographs with little information on them are an invitation to dig in. For instance, this image below was presented originally as "Jazz ensemble in performance", and correctly guesses this is in Sweden (the flags), and pre-1959 (the 48-star US flag).


From the posture of the clarinetist and a guess on the pianist, plus a few searches, this happens to be a Benny Goodman Quartet playing in Malmö, Sweden, on April 20, 1950, with Dick Hyman on piano, Charles Short on bass and Ed Shaughnessy on drums.

Incredibly, there are many more images from the same gig, which included Roy Eldridge and Zoot Sims, among others, in Swedish photo archive Bilderisyd.

Perhaps more incredibly, there are at least two recordings available from this tour: one from Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 13, 1950; another from April 24, 1950 in Stockholm, Sweden, just four days after those images from Malmö.

The Lausanne gig can be heard here.

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